Coal India’s trade unions on Wednesday said they may call off their proposed strike this month if the government formally withdrew its move to sell stake in the state-run company.
The unions say they are encouraged by the outcome of the meeting convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday where it said that PSUs like Coal India Limited (CIL) and BHEL can explore options like share buyback and special dividends if the disinvestment route was discarded owing to unfavourable market conditions.
The finance ministry had planned to divest 10 per cent stake in CIL, but following opposition from unions, it lowered it to 5 per cent or 31.58 crore shares.
“We are told that the decision (to withhold stake sale in CIL) was taken on Tuesday afternoon in presence of the Prime Minister and coal minister. However, we are very clear that the decision for nationwide strike between December 17-19 stands, unless we are formally conveyed by the government of its decision to call off the proposed disinvestment in CIL. We ask the coal ministry to initiate steps to call a joint meeting with the unions in this connection,” All-India Coal Workers Federation (AICWF) general secretary Jibon Roy told The Indian Express.
He said the coal workers affiliated to the federation would hold demonstrations at various locations across the country on Thursday to convey their opposition to the move to sell official stake in CIL.
While AICWF has expressed its willingness to relent in going to strike, other two unions — All India Trade Union Congress and Hind Mazdoor Sangh — are also ready to soften their position if coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal assured them in this connection, office bearers from these unions said. CIL is facing criticism for missing its production target of 41.93 million tonne (MT) as it could only produce 39.20 MT last month.
Its offtake target also fell short by 3 MT as it could ensure lifting of 38.76 MT in November. In the first eight months of the current fiscal, CIL output was 274.71 MT, as against the April-November target of 289.38 MT.